From all of the graduate recruiters that we've met over the past couple of years, there is one common recurring topic that many have brought up that hasn't' really had much attention paid to it formally and that topic is Online Discussion Forums.
These are the two words that seem to strike fear into any Australian graduate recruiter 'Whirlpool forums'.
Whether its false information about your graduate remuneration rates when they haven't even been determined yet, to a full blow by blow account of your assessment centre and interviewing process, the whirlpool forums will usually have some form of commentary about your graduate program or your organisation as a graduate employer. We've found that these forums have often made grad recruiters wary of participating in online debate as the anonymity granted to the job hunting graduates leads to some unease as well as some recruiters fearing that by participating on whirlpool, they will lose out on some of the candid responses from graduates who think that the recruiters are watching them.
The GradConnection Forums
The 'Whirlpool Effect' led us to start the GradConnection forums as a more employer friendly place for Australia's graduate recruiters to communicate with potential candidates in an online and persistent fashion. We wanted to share the knowledge and correct information that we received from employers to the graduates to cut out the misinformation and we've managed to build up a budding community on the site with a number of regulars who have a lot of specific industry knowledge that helps to give immediate job hunting advice as well as helping them to develop their careers over the longer term as well.
Forum Sessions Live Q &A
Another initiative that we sparked off this year has been live employer Q & A sessions on the forums primarily focussed on the Accounting Summer Internship recruitment process but also held some sessions to provide some information about the co-op program at Holden which covered a very wide range of disciplines. We weren't sure how these sessions were going to go as we hadn't heard about this sort of initiative being run in Australia before in a planned fashion but we had a few brave employers keen to try it out. The results were phenomenal.
As you can see, we managed to generate around 2000 4000 page views per live 2 hour forum session which is on average 16 32 people viewing the forum each minute. Here is what Gemma from the BDO grad team in Melbourne had to say about the forum session we organised for BDO in case you were wondering what it would be like to get involved:
BDO decided to be involved with an online forum on GradConnection during our 2010/11 vacation campaign as a way to raise the profile of our opportunities and to try connecting with students through an online medium outside of our website. The great thing about talking to students through a GradConnection forum is that feedback is immediate students can ask honest questions through a non-threatening medium and we get the opportunity to provide instant, meaningful answers to their queries. Commitment to a forum requires minimal effort just a pair of hands that can type pretty quickly! As a result of our involvement, we had over 70 questions asked in a two hour period and the threads have been viewed hundreds of times since which means our branding is continuing to receive exposure. During our recruitment process, the forum was mentioned by many candidates as a fantastic source of information on BDO's vacation opportunities the response has been overwhelming. To get the most out of being involved in a GradConnection forum, it is so important to be honest and open with candidates and offer information that can't be found on your website. It's a chance to really connect with potential candidates through a low-effort, high impact medium. We know there has been a virtual career fair held in Australia over the past few years where live chat sessions have been held, however the downside of these sessions was that they were over and done within a short 60 minute period and the transcripts that have been made available are in word document formats which aren't really available to be found by search engines making their usefulness lifespan fairly short. The main benefit of the forum sessions over the chat sessions are the fact that they becoming a living web page with new posters able to ask further questions even after the pre-arranged time has been and gone with the original poster being emailed alerts when new questions are asked.
Get Involved in 2011
So now that hopefully you may have overcome some of your fear of online forums and see how they can actually work in a beneficial way for your grad attraction strategy, you may be wondering how you can get involved. We are now starting to plan out sessions for the peak recruitment periods in 2011 so if you are a current GradConnection client, just get in touch with us to book in a time that suits your schedule next year.